Your NHS Remains Open: meet our ISPHN teams

Published: 27 May 2020

In response to the NHS campaign to encourage the public to seek care, we are currently speaking to different teams within our Trust, to uncover the ways in which they continue to provide our vital services to the public during the COVID19 outbreak.

We understand that this is an uncertain time for all, but while we are staying home to protect our NHS, we must also be mindful that there are many people out there who are struggling with new or existing physical and mental health conditions that continue to require treatment and support, regardless of the new circumstances.

Our NHS services remain open

We are here to take care of you – whether you are suffering with COVID-19 symptoms or anything else. Please be sure to get in touch with the services you usually work with to discover how they’re operating at this time and the best ways to seek support in the safest way possible.

This week we spoke to Justine Rooke and Sarah Clapham from our ISPHN service who are continuing to provide services to children, young people and families at this time.

Tell me about your team

We are called the ISPHN service which stands for Integrated Specialist Public Health Nursing service and we were previously known as Health Visiting and School Nursing.

The service is delivered by 6 teams across the East Riding. These teams are made up of specialist community public health nurses, family nurse practitioners, breast feeding specialists, public health nurses, nursery nurses, health care assistants and administrators.

Our specialist community public health nurses (Health Visitors and School Nurses) work closely with other services, including community midwives, GPs, children’s centres, early years’ settings, schools and higher education settings. We also work closely with other agencies for children with complex health needs or special educational needs and disabilities to ensure they get the services and care they need.

What services do you provide?

We provide a public health service called the Healthy Child Programme which delivers care to children, young people and families from pregnancy right through to 19 years or 25 if a young person has a complex need or disability. The Healthy Child Programme includes children’s clinics for monitoring growth and development, antenatal groups, regular face to face contacts with a health professional to review child development or other health issues, breastfeeding and parenting support, a specialist teenage parenting programme (Family Nurse Partnership) and teen drop-ins in secondary schools.

We are also available via the team duty line 9am-5pm, Mon- Fri, for advice and support. Our main goal is to support children and young people to achieve the best start in life and to be healthy and safe and achieve wellbeing.

Our services are mainly about preventative care. This includes health promotion activity and the early identification of health need. We mostly see children and young people in universal settings, either home and school, and support them to stay healthy by choosing healthy behaviours or through health education. This can help children or young people to avoid becoming ill or requiring medical treatments further down the line. We work holistically and in partnership with parents or young people to promote all aspects of health including physical, emotional and social wellbeing. We either provide an intervention ourselves or we signpost to a more specialist service at the earliest opportunity.


Why are your services so important?

The First 1,000 Days of life are now accepted as the most significant stage in a child’s developmental progress. Leading child health experts worldwide agree that care given during the first 1,000 Days has more influence on a child’s future than any other time in their life. This is why our services have a large focus on the early stages of life and pregnancy. There is also a large focus on adolescence and the importance of choosing healthy behaviours to make life long impact on health and wellbeing.

ISPHNs work out in communities, in homes, in schools and in community venues and regularly engage with the population of the East Riding. The insight we gain from working with individuals, families and communities helps to shape services for the future.

For instance, School Nurses in our local schools can identify emerging issues or patterns of health problems related to sexual and mental health and arrange for preventative services to be put in place. Another example would be our Health Visitors who use their specialist assessment skills and close relationships with families to support parenting and help identify issues which could affect child development. Nursery Nurses also undertake developmental screening questionnaires at regular stages in a child’s development to contribute to this and our Health Care Assistants monitor weight and healthy eating behaviours via the national child measurement programme in all primary schools.

As we offer a universal service it is really important to us that we engage with parents and young people to understand what is required from our service. We do not stigmatise in any way and we offer services which are visible, accessible and confidential. If you’re a parent or young person in the East Riding you can contact our service and we are accessible by a simple phone call or text. It’s our mission to ensure that every child, young person and parent gets the support they need to stay healthy and achieve wellbeing.

How has COVID-19 impacted how you provide these vital services?

In line with government advice, we immediately introduced social distancing techniques into our services. This meant most of our staff had to work from home and make phone calls to service users to replace routine face-to-face contacts.

The implementation of new technology in our services has been very exciting. We’re also glad that we launched our new website in January of this year as it’s given us a place to direct service users for the latest information. We also use our social media channels more than ever, as we have found it to be a creative avenue to stay in touch with people.

I think the key message is that our service have changed in a lot of ways during this time, however, we’re still here and providing our services, albeit in new and unfamiliar ways. These new methods may have taken us a while to get used to, but they’re working well. Please do reach out for support where you need it and rest assured we are here for you when you need us even if it is to put your mind at rest of something.

It’s also worth noting that our Chat Health texting support line for young people continues to operate. Even though your school is closed our School Nurses are still working and this confidential service remains open.

Help us help you get the treatment you need

While everyone is being told to stay at home, it can be hard to know what to do if you're unwell. To learn more about the ISPHN services you can use at this time, please check out the webpage here. You can also find them on Twitter, here.

For other physical and mental illnesses, please consider the following:

  • For help from a GP– use your GP surgery's website, use an online service or app, or call the surgery.
  • For urgent medical help –use the NHS 111 online service, or call 111 if you're unable to get help online.
  • For life-threatening emergencies– call 999 for an ambulance.

If you're advised to go to hospital, it's important to go.

For more information, please visit the NHS website here.

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